The New Orleans Saints have finally figured out a way to talk longtime tailback and special teams ace Fred McAfee into retirement by talking the 16-year veteran into accepting a position in the club's front office.
McAfee, 38, on Friday accepted the position of director of player programs, a role that will take on considerable significance, given the continuing education mandates of the league's revised player conduct policy.
In his new position, McAfee will help ease rookies into the league and aid veterans as they transition to life after football. His duties will include organizing life skills training seminars, continuing college education opportunities, internships, financial education classes and family assistance.
For one of the most popular players in recent franchise history, and a locker room leader who always embraced team concepts, the job appears to be an excellent fit.
"It's going to be a challenge, but I saw a lot during my time in the league," said McAfee, who was lured out of retirement last season, when the Saints needed him to provide a boost to their special teams units. "I learned a lot and can bring a new perspective to the position."
A sixth-round pick of New Orleans in the 1991 draft, McAfee spent two stints with the team, 1991-93 and 2000-2006, and made 122 of his 194 career appearances in a Saints uniform. He also spent time with Arizona (1994), Pittsburgh (1994-98) and Tampa Bay (1999).
The former Mississippi College standout logged 304 career carries for 1,273 yards and eight touchdowns, and caught 35 passes for 211 yards. But it was on special teams where McAfee made his mark, and he earned a 2002 Pro Bowl berth for his excellence in that area.
Playing on every special teams unit, even late in his career, McAfee notched 216 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He had 20 or more special teams tackles in four seasons and an amazing 30 tackles in 2005. McAfee also averaged 20.3 yards for his career on 119 kickoff returns.
He was the special teams captain for two seasons in Pittsburgh and for most of his second tour of duty in New Orleans.
"This is a natural progression of Fred's career in the NFL," said general manager Mickey Loomis. "He will be a valuable resource to the club and our players. Because of his wealth of experience in the league in terms of character, his years in the game, and the respect that our players have for him because of his accomplishments, we expect he will be a positive influence on our team."
McAfee is the only player in franchise history to have been a part of all three of the Saints' division championships, in 1991, 2000 and 2006.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.